It’s International Tea Day (May 21), which is perfect as families can now get together and enjoy a cuppa. A new independent research study commissioned by the Tea Advisory Panel has found that 6 in ten of us share the same tea drinking habits as our parents or children. This makes tea a truly intergenerational drink.
Tea drinking is packed health benefits – from cognitive and brain health to protection of heart and gut function.
Interesting facts for International Tea Day
Dietitian, Dr Carrie Ruxton, from the Tea Advisory Panel was on hand to tell us more.
“As well as being popular across the ages, tea provides distinct benefits for each generation. Studies show that working age adults who drink tea improve their mental focus and memory. Older adults benefit from lower blood pressure and a reduced risk of heart disease. And children over the age of four years can get a health advantage by switching to milky unsweetened tea as its natural fluoride protects teeth.
“Tea is also proven to have gut health effects, as noted in a research review published in the journal, Nutrients. Drinking green tea boosted gut levels of Bifidobacterium – a healthy strain of bacteria linked with metabolic health. This could particularly help women who tend to suffer digestive discomfort more often than men”.
Tea drinking improves mood
GP, Dr Gill Jenkins, adds: “Another review just published in the Journal of Human Nutrition confirmed the brain and cognitive benefits of regular tea drinking. The secret is the natural elixir of polyphenols, caffeine and L-theanine which have been shown to influence the brain from adolescence to old age. Indeed, in the new poll, more than eight in ten adults say drinking tea helps to improve their mood. Four in ten claim it keeps them calm”.
The Tea Advisory Panel poll also found intergenerational differences in the way we take our tea. While adding milk to tea remains popular, younger people are trying tea without milk or adding plant milks. Also, a third of younger people leave the teabag in for longer than their elders. This is far better for extracting the maximum amount of polyphenols.
GP, Dr Gill Jenkins, comments: “Research shows that tea components, especially polyphenols, influence brain health, mood and cognitive function by relaxing blood vessels and improving their function. This lowers blood pressure and brings more nutrients and oxygen to the brain. Tea polyphenols are also anti-inflammatory and deliver antioxidant effects which protect brain cells from damage. The unique combination of caffeine and L-theanine, an amino acid in tea, promotes mental focus.”
The new poll also found that 25 per cent of people use a cuppa to keep their brain functioning well. And more than 70 per cent say their morning tea – especially black tea – wakes them up and gets them going. Younger people tend to favour tea in the evening and say it helps them to relax.
A fascinating aspect of the new poll was that even the aroma of tea has an impact on how people feel and think. This fact is supported by the new systematic review lead by Dr Jenkins. More than half of people say they feel cosy, happy and relaxed when they smell freshly brewed tea. The aroma also makes a third think about their parents. Around a fifth remember their grandparents or hark back to childhood camping trips.
Dr Carrie Ruxton concludes: “All the evidence on tea means that drinking 3-4 cups of tea a day could benefit children and teenagers needing to complete homework. While it helps, working adults trying to destress or focus on complex tasks, and retired adults who want to retain optimal brain health as they age.
“Yet, as the Tea Advisory Panel poll revealed, most people are still unaware of these benefits and simply drink tea because it makes them feel good. Whether we’re enjoying a cuppa alone or with friends and family this International Tea Day, it’s time to celebrate the health benefits that our humble cuppa provides to both young and old.”
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